Microsoft’s Tablets: Bad News, Again

First their names were clunky, then they were too expensive, then one of them got a bug, then their names were still clunky, and now? Now one of Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) new tablets doesn’t live up to the “64GB” in its product description.

When Microsoft launched its two tablets, it already faced an uphill battle on all sides against the likes of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle, and a bounty of others. These other tablets had things going for them that Microsoft’s Surface just didn’t.

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Catchy names

The little “i” before so many Apple products seemed to do the trick with consumers, and Kindle, Kindle Fire, and Kindle Fire HD aren’t too hard to remember or say. But, Microsoft’s first name for its tablet was Surface With Windows RT and Surface With Windows 8 Pro, which sound more like statements than names. Then, rather than renaming them to the simplified Surface RT and Surface Pro being used by the media, Microsoft rebranded them with the names Surface Windows RT and Surface Windows 8 Pro. Oy!


The name issue was just nominal and only the tip of the iceberg. Aside from entering a market with well-established front-runners, Microsoft’s tablets didn’t have very competitive pricing to lure in customers.

A Surface tablet starts at $500, and the Surface Pro will fetch $899. For comparison, a quick look on Apple’s website showed the iPad 2 starting at $399, and even Amazon’s 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE is only priced at $499 on Amazon’s website…

Unexpected issues

Needless to say, a less popular, less established device selling at a higher price doesn’t offer much of a competitive edge — and neither does a technical glitch. An error came out of a set of updates that Microsoft released on January 8, and it has been giving Windows RT users trouble updating their devices. However, a fix is expected early next month.

While the glitch couldn’t have been expected by consumers or Microsoft, Microsoft can’t plead ignorance on the Surface Pro storage issue. The new device has two memory capacities, 64 gigabytes and 128 gigabytes, but some consumers feel misled. The memory isn’t less than Microsoft says it is, but the available storage didn’t turn out as some consumers had expected.

While there would still be ample space to use on the 128GB device, almost 75 percent of the storage capacity on the 64GB device is occupied by the Windows 8 operating system. This had some consumers feel they’d deceived. The Surface RT faced a similar problem with the 32GB device only offering 16GB of available storage.

While the Windows devices do have the capacity to add memory, and have specially designed keyboards that would allow them to function more like a laptop, taking advantage of these options would cost consumers more money and simply drive the overall price of the device even higher above the competition.

As PC sales have declined, Microsoft may need to lean more and more on other venues for revenue, and if the company doesn’t get its act together in the tablet market, it may not be able to bank on the Surface tablets for much aid.

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